Author Topic: Roll on service for Amtrak long haul routes  (Read 2878 times)

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Offline Jth6528

Roll on service for Amtrak long haul routes
« on: February 22, 2015, 08:39:52 pm »
I've read last summer on streets blog that Amtrak would begin accommodating roll on bikes on their long haul routes.  I haven't been able to find any update on the implementation of this service or when and what routes we can expect to begin seeing this service.  Is anyone more familiar with the plans and status, and can share information?  This seems to have incredible potential to expand possibilities for long distance bike touring in the US and I am hopeful it may come to fruition. 

Offline staehpj1

Re: Roll on service for Amtrak long haul routes
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2015, 08:30:06 am »
I am curious as well.  From what little I have read it sounds like these racks are in the baggage car.  So you can still only use them if there is baggage service where ever you get on, change trains, and get off.  It also sounds like you will still pay the same fee and the only cost savings is not needing to buy the box.  For long trips getting to and from tours boxing the bike just isn't that big of a deal and the $15 savings on the box isn't that huge of a deal either.  In the grand scheme of a 3 day coast to coast train ride 15 minutes on each end to box or unbox the bike isn't that big of a deal.

I guess this is an improvement if they actually get it implemented, but it seems like a half measure.  It would be nice if instead of this they allowed walk on service with racks in the passenger cars on all rather than just some routes.  Then you could have access to your bike at any station.


  • Guest
Re: Roll on service for Amtrak long haul routes
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2015, 10:36:21 am »
Staehpj1's comment poses the $64,000 question: Will these new baggage cars with accommodations for unboxed bikes expand the number of stations which bikes can be transported between or will they merely offer a more convenient way to transport bikes, with the general requirement that there be checked baggage service at the origin and destination remaining in place? My educated guess is that it will be the latter due to schedule and safety concerns.

Note one of the comments to the blog:

"I agree it is a less-than-half measure. I want to get off at some small stations that don’t have baggage service but, apparently, the fine print says the roll-on/off policy only applies to stations with baggage service. Stupid."

Having done it several times, I have to agree that having to box the bike really isn't the big issue. The scarcity of origin-destination pairs between which one may transport bikes is.

As for timing, a comment to another blog post relates a conversation with Amtrak in October of 2014 during which Amtrak stated that there has been a delay in production and that the new cars will not be put into service for 6-12 months.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Roll on service for Amtrak long haul routes
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2015, 10:45:17 pm »
I'd like to think that they would allow for the loading/unloading of unboxed bikes at unstaffed (no baggage service) stations. And it's not like Amtrak can't do it: Cascades corridor service (Eugene-Portland-Seattle-Vancouver) has the bike storage in the baggage car, and there are a few unstaffed stations (Olympia-Lacey, Mt. Vernon). And when I've had to load/unload a bike at those stations, the conductor or other train employee opens the baggage door and takes care of it.


  • Guest
Re: Roll on service for Amtrak long haul routes
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2015, 10:18:51 am »
I'd be interested to see the Cascades station configurations, especially compared to the typical length of the train. I have seen Amtrak stops that are no more than 40' of "platform" and a bus shelter. One potential safety issue is if you have a short platform resulting in the tail of the train, where the baggage car is usually situated, being way down the track. That could result in a member of the train crew having to walk along ballast or some other unsafe condition wheeling a bike, possibly in the middle of the night. There are other operational considerations that could make unloading from the baggage car impractical or impossible at particular stops.